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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: March ::
More Rs: "a naked new-born babe"
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 131.  Thursday, 4 March 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Georgianna Ziegler <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 Mar 1993 16:06:54 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0126  Q: "a naked new-born babe"
 
(2)     From:   Robert F. O'Connor <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Mar 1993 10:38:50 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0126  Q: "a naked new-born babe"
 
(3)     From:   Tad Davis <
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        Date:   Thursday, 04 Mar 93 14:38:01 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 4.0126  Q: "a naked new-born babe"
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Georgianna Ziegler <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 Mar 1993 16:06:54 -0500
Subject: 4.0126  Q: "a naked new-born babe"
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0126  Q: "a naked new-born babe"
 
The new Folger Shakespeare "Macbeth" glosses cherubin thus:
 
"In other plays, Sh. uses the word cherubin to refer to cherubs (winged
angels, depicted as infants or youths with wings and rosy, smiling faces);
here, the reference seems to be to the powerful supernatural winged
creature described in Ezekiel 10 and referred to in Psalm 18.10
where God comes to the rescue of the psalmist, David, riding on a
cherub ("...he rode upon a Cherub and did fly, and he came flying
upon the wings of the wind")."
 
In the same edition, Mowat and Werstine gloss "sightless couriers" as
"invisible coursers or steeds."
 
But I will ditto Hardy's advice on this one--go look at Brooks!
 
Cheers--Georgianna
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert F. O'Connor <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Mar 1993 10:38:50 +1000
Subject: 4.0126  Q: "a naked new-born babe"
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0126  Q: "a naked new-born babe"
 
 Ronald Dwelle <
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 > wrote:
 
>I'm teaching Macbeth (for the first time in years) and stumbling a bit
>on some of the language. For example:
>          I,vii, 16-25.
>Macbeth is in soliloqy, describing Duncan's meekness and other virtues,
>which will "plead against his taking off...."
>Then the lines:
>          And pity, like a naked new-born babe
>          Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin horsed
>          Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
>          Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye
>          That tears shall drown the wind.
>I can find no gloss and can make little sense of the simile.
 
By the happiest of coincidences I am also working on 'Macbeth' for the
first time since being an undergraduate. This passage also caught my eye,
though not, I confess, because it stumped me. It always makes me think of
Southwell's 'The Burning Babe' for obvious reasons, and I think there is a
deliberate prefiguration of the bloody child of 4.1.90ff. The idea that an
evil deed would make itself known through the physical world goes all the
way back to the murder of Abel, I think - Vindice's sentiments at the end
of 'The Revenger's Tragedy' notwithstanding.
 
The idea that Duncan was a super-virtuous king is one that I have been told
is not (by some interpretations of the sources) accurate - any comments
anyone?
 
ROC
 
An addendum - I am using the recent Oxford Shakespeare edition of 'Macbeth' and
I can recommend it for further info.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tad Davis <
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Date:           Thursday, 04 Mar 93 14:38:01 -0500
Subject: 4.0126  Q: "a naked new-born babe"
Comment:        RE: SHK 4.0126  Q: "a naked new-born babe"
 
I can't offer much of a gloss, but it's one of the most frightening images
in Shakespeare.
 
Some of that fright for me, though, may be based on one of those early
misapprehensions that are so difficult to root out. "Sightless couriers"
has always raised images of eyeless horses, perhaps with little ribbons of
red flame trailing from their ears. It has always been mingled in my mind
with images of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. I believe, however,
that "sightless" really means "invisible," and the "sightless couriers of
the air" are really the four winds rather than the four horsemen...
 
Tad Davis

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